Zora Neale Hurston - Sense of Self

Essay by rockafellerCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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In the essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" Zora Neale Hurston recalls her upbringing in an all black town, and her move to a mostly white town in the heart of racist Alabama. The author is exposed to racism and through the interaction school of symbolic interaction; she feels above the ignorance of society and negotiates her sense of self as a woman rather than as a colored person. The interaction school describes how the author has an active role in deciding who she is. When colored people Hurston knows are shaping his or her sense of self around their perceived race identity, she doesn't follow their lead and shapes her own identity.

Hurston had lived in an all colored town but had never thought twice about whether she was any different than the white people that rode through her small Florida town. She thought "white people differed from colored people to me only in that they rode through town and never lived there" (36).

Hurston's fellow African American neighbors were suspicious of northern white people but did not deem the local white people to merit a single glance when they passed. The specific results of racism are what concern Hurston. The interaction school of symbolic interaction applies here as Hurston chooses to interact with white people passing through the town as if they were no different. All of the other people in Eatonville, Florida distance themselves from the whites that pass through, but Hurston interacts with them as is they are no different than her neighbors in her eyes.

Hurston says, "I remember the very day that I became colored." Up until she was thirteen years old, Hurston had never been exposed to the idea of racism. She left for school in Jacksonville, Mississippi. For the...